Reviews

The following are a number of particularly illuminating reviews of ‘The Man Who Walked Out of the Jungle’ and ‘Rapidan.’

‘The Man Who Walked Out of the Jungle’

Review by jkozaczek, posted in Goodreads

8 April 2018

The Man Who Walked out of the Jungle is much more than a “thriller” – it’s a complex, detailed, riveting historical novel set in the waning days of the Vietnam War. Just as America’s involvement in this war was complicated, so too is the plot of this work by Jeff Wallace. Author Wallace immerses the reader in the history behind the war, from the point of view of an American army officer in his third tour in Vietnam who is as conflicted about his mission in the country as he is at the prospect of leaving behind the woman he loves when it is all over.

The hero, Major George Tanner, is tasked with a seemingly straightforward assignment of identifying a man killed at night by a mine in an American infantry outpost in the rain forest north of Saigon. But what starts as a routine investigation turn into a troubling discovery of corruption, drug smuggling, and deception at the highest levels.

The Man Who Walked Out of the Jungle takes place over the span of 21 days, with each day a new chapter of the novel. Wallace writes with an increasing sense of urgency as the action ramps up and the protagonist is faced with the reality of risking the lives of those he loves to reveal the truth. The dialogue is crisp and will resonate with anyone who has served in the military. The story is compelling in itself, but what makes this novel worth reading more than once is its detailed history of an unpopular war, described by Wallace as “the intractable conundrum.”

I highly recommended The Man Who Walked Out of the Jungle to anyone who enjoys an action-packed, intelligent mystery and more so, to anyone interested in a compelling perspective of the Vietnam War. — jkozaczek, Goodreads Review

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Official OnlineBookClub.org review of ‘Rapidan’

Review by Kdstrack

15 March 2018

Rapidan by Jeff Wallace is a historical fiction novel that delves into certain aspects of the Civil War. It especially deals with slavery and the Underground Railroad.

Captain John Holland, wounded in battle, has been moved to home of the Van Meer family for recovery. With time, they come to appreciate and feel for him. After a time, John’s superiors make the decision to remove him from the family home. The family members are accused of being spies. Not content to simply remove John from the premises, the family members are persecuted. Anna, the daughter, escapes prison and death. During his convalescence at their home, John had fallen in love with Anna. He disobeys military orders and goes in search of her. Can he locate her and save her before his superiors kill them both?

The Rapidan River in Virginia referenced in the story was a vital crossing point for the armies in the Civil War. The other historical facts are accurate and pertinent to the story. The author especially highlights the situation of the slaves. This theme is then expanded to include those who ran the Underground Railroad. The dangers they faced and the risks they undertook to get slaves to the North are presented in an understanding and thoughtful way.

I truly enjoyed the focus the author gave to the slaves and the Underground Railroad. He presents a side of this phenomenon that is rarely highlighted. The depictions of the army and their living conditions are also well done. The living condition of freed slaves is taken into account. And finally, the author presents in a clear and vivid way the social injustices which women in this time period confronted.

The conversations in this story were excellently done. The story is written in third person giving the reader a universal view of the motives and thinking of each individual. The mood was also appropriate to the plot. There is a swing between suspense and calm, tension and peace.

The only thing I did not like about the book was the frequent use of incomplete sentences. For example, on p. 6: “Surrounding Holland, the unfamiliar house and its creaks, knocks, and recurrent, bewildering sounds of scratching.” I understand that the author is using this as a literary device, but its excessive use became irritating.

I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. The subject matter had been studied extensively and was true to historical facts. The story was interesting and engaging, including the insights into slavery, the Underground Railroad and the freed slaves. I would recommend this book to readers of historical fiction and students of history in general.

kdstrack, Onlinebookclub.com

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Review: The Man Who Walked out of the Jungle by Jeff Wallace

Review by David Willson, The Veteran, Books in Review II

5 April 2017

The main character of this thriller is George Tanner, an American Army major who advises a Vietnamese military police company. In April 1970, a Caucasian male walks out of the rain forest just north of Saigon. He intersects with U. S. Army personnel and is shot and killed.

Most of the rest of this engrossing novel deals with finding out the identity of this man and what was he doing all alone in the jungle. He carried no I.D. and his clothing told those who found him very little.

Tanner is tasked with unraveling the mystery. He comes to find out that there are people who do not want him to find the answers. Danger seems to lurk around every corner for Tanner as he stumbles around following the few clues he has.

This is a work of fiction, we are assured, but Wallace, a former Army officer, tells us that “the characters, facilities, organizations, military units” we encounter bear much similarity to their real counterparts. The historical setting rings totally true to me as I spent a lot of time in the very spots the author has chosen to place his story in.

Wallace’s representation of his Vietnamese characters is extensive and jibes with what I saw when I was in Saigon. The main character falls in love with Vietnam and with a woman named Tuyet. He wrestles with the problem of convincing her to go to America with him. She cannot imagine herself living in anywhere other than Saigon.

This serious novel deals with Vietnamization, but does not dwell on the usual preoccupations of Vietnam War fiction. It is said more than once that we should have stayed the fuck out of Vietnam. Attention is paid to the French at Dien Bien Phu. As for the Americans, Wallace writes: The “world’s best Army is struggling to defeat a bunch of rag tags.”

I enjoyed this thriller and was happy that it was more like a Graham Green novel than the usual infantry novel penned by often resentful and angry former draftees. I highly recommend it to serious readers of Vietnam War literature.

–David Willson, The Veteran, Books in Review II

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Review: ‘The Man Who Walked Out of the Jungle; a Must-Read Thriller by Jeff Wallace

Review by BestThrillers Staff

13 April 2017

The Bottom Line: One of the year’s best thrillers so far. A highly textured, must-read gripper that will appeal equally to fans of mysteries, military thrillers and police procedurals.

Vietnam, 1970. George Tanner, an American military police investigator based in Saigon, is near the end of his final tour of duty. While trying to convince his Vietnamese girlfriend to go with him when he leaves, he becomes obsessed with the death of a man the press has labeled an ‘unknown soldier.’

Told from Tanner’s point of view, author Jeff Wallace spares no detail in describing the wartime flavor of Southeast Asia. You can practically taste the humidity, feel the mosquito bites, and hear the occasional air conditioner struggling to keep the scorching heat at bay. And yet due to Wallace’s economical use of dialogue and deft pacing, the plot never feels bogged down by the grandiosity of the language.

The deeper Tanner wades into the investigation, the more precarious it becomes. Before long, he finds that he’s in far too deep, putting himself in mortal danger. At every turn, circumstances seem to compel him to stay in the country – or is Tanner himself willing it to happen? Soon, the prospect of leaving the country alive seems about as real as one of his recurring dreams.

Ex-soldier Wallace’s debut novel is a stunner, and not just for the intensity of the mystery he has created. More than just a great thriller, The Man Who Walked Out of the Jungle is a profound tribute to the people who go above and beyond the call of duty.

Bestthrillers.com

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KIRKUS REVIEW – ‘The Man Who Walked Out of the Jungle’ by Jeff Wallace

6 June 2017

In this novel set during the Vietnam War, a U.S. Army investigator tries to solve the mystery of a Caucasian man’s death.

It’s 1970, and George Tanner, a young American military police investigator, is in his 32nd month in South Vietnam. He’s charged with unraveling an unusual case: why did a Caucasian man wearing U.S. military gear walk out of the rain forest 100 kilometers north of Saigon in the middle of the night and straight up to an American infantry outpost? He was killed by the post’s defenders, but he lacked identification and his mission remains enigmatic. During Tanner’s probe, he comes up against the corruption and cynicism surrounding the failing American operation in Vietnam. Tanner’s commanding officer, for example, scoffs at the very idea of a real inquiry: “I don’t give an old whore’s fuck whether your procedures call for a tidy checklist wherein you eliminate possibilities with your Saigon cop buddies. What I want from you is one thing—a finding that the casualty was not an American.” While Tanner follows clues involving a rubber plantation, a showgirl, a warlord, and a wealthy socialite, he also tries to persuade his lover, a Vietnamese woman named Tuyet, to return to America with him, but Saigon is her home. With many forces arrayed against him, Tanner plays a dangerous game. Wallace (The Known Outcome, 2016), a former U.S. Army officer, draws on his experience for verisimilitude, which gives this thriller a solid backing. Tanner’s knowledge of Army procedures derives him as much solid information from repair slips and serial numbers as he gets from tough-guy action sequences—though there are plenty of those. Wallace’s pacing is taut, his characters well developed, and his Vietnamese locations authentic and beautifully evoked. The author also brings forth the war’s horrors and ironies with many well-judged observations, as when Tanner compares the Army to an old Roman road: “Commanders were its stones fitted together to withstand heavy loads”; a corrupt commander “had crumbled like a clay clod under a boot.”

A well-written, thoughtful military thriller that appreciates complexities and tells an exhilarating story.

Kirkus Reviews

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